When it came time to bring home the new baby to her big sister (who is still a baby herself), I had mixed emotions. I was excited to introduce big baby Claire to little baby Emma, but slightly worried that Claire might feel threatened, resentful, or jealous of a new baby getting our time and attention that used to be all hers.
We decided not to bring Claire into the hospital to meet Emma. I have seen cute photos of older siblings in the hospital meeting the new baby for the first time, but since Claire was 15 months at the time we decided it might be more traumatizing and confusing to her to come to the hospital and see us with a new baby.
On the car ride home from the hospital, I searched on my phone for posts about bringing home a new sibling. I was interested in advice for Claire’s age group because she is still so little and developing her language.
After scanning posts and thinking about advice I had already received, I came up with our plan during our 30 minute ride. I was hoping we would get a positive reaction out of Claire but also bracing myself for an upset Claire and being okay with that. Here are my top five tips based on we did that helped us:
1. Introduce Your Toddler When She Is Well-Rested
When we got home, Claire was struggling to go down for a nap. As excited as I might have been to introduce her to her sister, I held back and made sure she got her nap in before we did the sister reveal party. I’m so glad we did because I can imagine that we would have had a much different experience if we hadn’t let her take her nap first.
2. Put Your Baby in a Neutral Location
I read that it’s best to not be holding your new baby when your toddler sees you for the first time. Since you have been away for a bit while giving birth, it’s good to spend some time alone with your toddler, so she feels reassured that she isn’t being replaced. I went in and got Claire up from her nap like normal, and then started talking about meeting her new sister Emma as we were walking down the stairs. My husband had Emma in the baby bassinet on the living room floor.
3. Introduce Your New Baby as “Our New Baby”
One of my favorite pieces of advice was to introduce your new baby as “our new baby” and not “my new baby”. Someone at the hospital also mentioned that if you include the older sibling in the care of the new baby, she might start to think it’s her baby and want to help with taking care of her. I thought this was so sweet. When I introduced Claire to Emma I said “Look that’s our new baby! We get to take care of her!” She was super excited!
4. Don’t Make Too Big of a Deal out of It
Even though we were lucky to get a positive reaction out of Claire, I also wanted to be prepared for her to go in the opposite direction. I had read advice to go about the normal routine after a brief introduction and let the sibling feel like life is going on as normal. We did this anyway and I could tell Claire was happy to do her usual before and after dinnertime terrorizing of the pantry, cabinets, bookshelves, etc. despite the massive life change that had taken place.
5. Bring Your Baby into Your Toddler’s Normal Routine
On our first full day at home with baby Emma, I brought her in the baby bassinet over to Claire’s room (where we had been spending a lot of her awake time) and we sat on the floor with her morning bottle and I read her a book while we looked at the new baby. I tried to minimize the disruption of the new baby to Claire’s normal routine as much as possible, which wasn’t as hard as I thought since she slept most of the time anyway!
We got lucky with this reaction from Claire, and I’m so glad we got it on video! I couldn’t have imagined she would react like this. Right before we started recording, she actually said Emma!
I have a world to learn about parenting siblings, but wanted to share our experience of bringing home our new baby to her new big sister.
Do you have any tips on bringing home a new baby to a toddler? I would love to hear them (although we are taking a break from making more babies for the foreseeable future!).